Editor’s note: John Thomas, Inc., prepared the information in this article. The company is based in Dixon, Ill.

Since being introduced more than 20 years ago, portable traffic signals have evolved and become the high-tech answer to the age-old challenge of work zone traffic control. Today’s portable traffic signals include robust signalization technology.

Controller technology has rapidly evolved to make the signals easy to program with minimal training. For example, the Galaxy controller from John Thomas, Inc. (JTI) is capable of driving a single signal or an entire network. Users can easily program and store everything from simple flagger functions to complex 16-phase intersections.

Signal deployment has also evolved to make it both easier and safer to setup portable traffic signals. The ADDCO PTS-2000 has an electric hydraulic mast that enables the signal arm and mast to be raised with the flip of a switch in the controller box. In the past, users had to enter the traffic path to manually push out the signal arm over the roadway. Now the user can remain safely at the roadside and flip a switch. In the photo below on the right: the equipment used in an automated mast and arm deployment.

Powering portable traffic signals is no longer a concern. Portable traffic signals were once powered by diesel engines. Today, batteries with solar recharging power the signals. That way, the signals can be used at even the most remote sites.

Many states and contractors have found portable traffic signals to be an ideal solution, including Kevin Shelton, project manager at Eudora, Kan.–based C-Hawkk Construction.

“One of the most difficult projects that C-Hawkk has worked on was a project in Missouri where we were asked to install the traffic control on a bridge over the Lake of the Ozarks. We faced heavy snow and extreme cold weather – and the portable traffic signals performed at a top level,” says Shelton.

Adoption of portable traffic signals is growing. They provide cost-effective 24/7 traffic control and help keep flaggers out of harm’s way.

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